Winter fest a winner

Mads Harrop Band, Bo and the Constrictors, Kylie Price and Big Lawn   are just some of the...
Mads Harrop Band, Bo and the Constrictors, Kylie Price and Big Lawn are just some of the performers at Lobofest next weekend. PHOTOS: OTAGO DAILY TIMES FILES / SUPPLIED
While Dunedin may perpetually lack venues, we make up for it in the sheer quantity of community organised events - often taking place in strange and innovative spaces, writes Fraser Thompson.

I feel like I’m still recovering from the massive Music for People festival earlier in June, which exposed the divine stonework of St Paul’s Cathedral to noises its founders couldn’t have even fathomed, and might not have wanted to.

There was also the Nook and Cranny festival in May, which filled the typically hushed public library with everything from folk to experimental noise

And if that’s not enough, another festival is taking place this weekend - this time in a vacant warehouse.

Ed Lobo’s Lobofest festival started six years ago as a summer party and jam on his and his wife’s farm. Since then it’s grown into an annual event for Dunedin’s music community - and, motivated by recent events, has this year spawned an offshoot in the form of Winter Lobofest.

"Obviously last year was a really bad year for musicians," explained Ed. "We love music, I’m a musician myself, and this is just basically to say thank you to them for their contribution.

"We decided midwinter would be a good time to do it, and as it happened it seems to be working, the communities got together."

In keeping with the spirit of the event, it’s made possible through sponsorship from local businesses, and all of the profits are going back to the community too. That means the musicians are getting paid - which is not always a given.

"The event is organised by Michelle, my wife, and obviously myself. And we’ve got day jobs, so we basically don’t take any money out of the event, we organise it and any profits go back to either the community or the musicians.

"This is a completely privately sponsored event and we’ve had, I think, nine sponsors, including yourselves actually, so I’m very pleased that the community basically got together and said, ‘yeah we’ll help’.

"There’s something very very good about Dunedin."

What the community gets is nine hours of live music in a vacant warehouse on the waterfront (currently Dunedin’s best mid-sized venue), as well as pre- and post-sessions at Starters Bar on the days surrounding the main event.

It’s massive, and should offer something for just about everyone.

"It’s very eclectic, it will be anything from jazz all the way to heavy rock and alternative, it’s going to be a bit of everything. From solo songwriters, singer songwriters, all the way to 12-piece jazz bands. So yeah, it’s going to be a nice show, I’m really looking forward to it."

It’s a testament to the community spirit that helps make the Dunedin music scene so strong, a spirit that is currently being tested by both the dearth of venues and the venerable foe of musicians everywhere: Noise Control.

"There is quite a somber mood in the music community, noise control has always been a talking point ever since I got to Dunedin eight years ago, and the problem is that the council doesn’t recognise noise problems as an ongoing concern.

"One of the things we’re craving is just more venues, more places to play music, because it’s less every year.

"Is the reason because it’s becoming an inconvenience? Because that’s what the law says, if noise is inconvenient then you have the right to complain. I don’t think that should be the case, music shouldn’t be seen as noise anyway."

If you haven’t already secured tickets, the main event is completely sold out. But the pre-fest and post-fest on the adjacent Friday and Sunday are still on the cards and each feature eight great local bands.


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